Photo: BNP Paribas Open
Defending BNP Paribas Open champion Bianca Andreescu (No. 16 seed) of Canada kicked off her title defense on winning fashion on Saturday night, defeating American Alison Riske in three sets 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-2. Andreescu is trying to become the second woman in history, after Martina Navratilova (1990-1991), to win back-to-back titles in the California desert.
It was going to be a tough challenge for Riske, who had never reached the third round in seven appearances at Indian Wells. While Andreescu has four losses this season against players ranked outside the top 50, the American had no win in six attempts against top seeds and only one win (No. 32 Veronica Kudermetova) in eight matches against players ranked inside the top 50.
Still, Riske showed a lot of grit to start the match. In addition to saving three of four break points against a much more diverse Andreescu, she played convincing defense throughout the set and eventually forced a tiebreak. However, everything fell apart a few minutes later when the Mississauga, Ontario native found another gear. Dominating the rallies, Andreescu quickly capitalized on her opponent’s errors (who ended the set on a double fault) to take control of the contest 7-6(2).
Andreescu’s momentum continued in the second set. Having found her rhythm, she relied on her serve (85% of first serve points won) and a break in the fourth game to take a 4-1 lead. However, Riske showed some great resiliency after being dominated in the first few rallies. In addition to levelling the score at 4-4, she managed to erase two match points to extend the match. Visibly galvanized, the American completed the comeback in the set a few minutes later by a score of 7-5, pushing the match to a decisive final frame.
This time it was Andreescu’s turn to show her composure under pressure. While others would have crumbled, the Canadian began the set methodically, winning the first three games without reply. Then, she finally managed to take advantage of her opponent’s weaknesses to take a 5-1 lead and dash Riske’s hopes of victory.
Game, set, match… ANDREESCU.
In the third round, the Canadian will meet fierce Estonian Anett Kontaveit (No. 18 seed) who defeated Martina Trevisan in round two. Kontaveit, who is ranked no. 20 in the world, has been on a roll in recent weeks. After winning the Cleveland tournament in August, she added another title to her collection after defeating Maria Sakkari of Greece in the final of the J&T Bank Open in Ostrava.
The time and date of the match will be announced in the coming days. One thing is certain, this duel is one that Canadian tennis fans are looking forward to!
Fernandez and Gauff still dominant in doubles at Indian Wells
After defeating France’s Alizé Cornet in her first singles match on Friday in Indian Wells, Leylah Fernandez was back on court Saturday to play her second round doubles match alongside American Cori Gauff (ranked np. 23 in doubles). The young duo, who had completely dominated their opening round opponents, were facing formidable adversaries: the fifth-seeded pair of Nicole Melichar (USA) and Demi Schuurs (Netherlands).
Although Melichar and Schuurs, both 28 years old, are far more experienced players, it was the teens who led the charge, winning the match in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. The match lasted only 1 hour and 2 minutes.
It was a close battle in the first opening set, with both teams trading breaks early on. It wasn’t until the eighth game of the set that the Gauff-Fernandez duo finally took control and closed out the frame in the next game.
Getting the lead seemed to give the Canadian-American duo a lot of energy as they never looked back. They won five consecutive games to take a 5-1 lead in set two. Fernandez and Gauff then sealed the outcome of the match on their first match point in the eighth game.
This win means that the two young sensations are moving on to the quarter-finals. This is the Canadian’s second appearance at this stage of a WTA doubles event. She also reached the final eight last January at the Yarra Valley Classic. Gauff, a U.S. Open doubles finalist, will be making her ninth quarter-final appearance of the season in doubles. The duo will face the winners of the match pitting the second-seeded team of Elise Mertens and Su-Wei Hsieh against Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
All-Canadian showdown: Shapovalov into the second round after Pospisil withdraws
It was Canada vs. Canada in Indian Wells today, as No.9 Denis Shapovalov of Ontario went head-to-head against No.68 Vasek Pospisil of British Columbia in the second round of the Californian event. Fun fact: it was the fourth all-Canadian ATP match this season, and Shapovalov competed in all of them.
Pospisil, who earned his first Masters 1000 win since Shanghai 2019, had his sights set on reaching the third round of Indian Wells for the first time since 2017. Shapovalov, who was 2-1 against his countryman going into the match, was out to better his best career result at the prestigious tournament (round of 16 in 2019).
Unfortunately, in the third game of the first set, Pospisil suffered a lower back injury. He received medical treatment but was forced to withdraw as Shapovalov moved on. The Ontarian now faces the winner of tonight’s match between Salvatore Caruso of Italy and No.19 Aslan Karatsev of Russia. Regardless of who wins, the match promises to be an exciting one, especially since Shapovalov has never faced either opponent. Caruso (No. 135) is 4-18 in 2021, but Karatsev won his first ATP crown of the season in Dubai and has risen to a career high ranking of No.23.